History: Quinoa originated from the Andean region of South America. In this area it has been a cultivated and eaten food for 6,000 years. The Incas thought the crop was sacred and referred to it as chisaya mama, aka the mother of all grains. However, Quinoa is actually the seed of the Chenopodium plant.
Nutritional Benefit: This small seed is packed with protein and is great for vegans and vegetarians. Quinoa has high values of dietary fiber which is good for our digestive system and is also high in magnesium and iron. For those of you who have problems with gluten...you're in luck because Quinoa is gluten-free.
Ways to Cook: On the outside of Quinoa is an invisible coating called a sapopin. This coating is bitter in taste and by soaking it in water you will remove it. Most store bought Quinoa will have this coating removed already so all you need to do is rinse the Quinoa in a strainer. A soapy looking residue will come off when rinsed. Just as Quinoa makes a great substitute for rice or couscous, you will cook it much the same way. I use two parts water to one part Quinoa. Add all of it in a pot and bring to a boil. Once you get a boil going, cover the pot and simmer it for about 10-15 minutes so excess water is taken out. You will know the Quinoa is done when it turns a bit of a translucent color and the germ of the seed forms a ring around the outside.
One thing I do to really boost the flavor when cooking it is to cook using a stock such as vegetable or chicken. When cooking is finished you can sprinkle your favorite spices over the top or simply add it to something else on the menu. I love adding Quinoa to salads and bean dishes. My friend Matt Lowe likes mixing Quinoa with salsa, corn, and black beans...give it a try! Below are a couple videos of people cooking with Quinoa.
Friday, January 15, 2010